Dr Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), held his regular COVID briefing October 13. He announced that the EOHU is only 200 people away from vaccinating 90 percent of the population with their first dose.
Roumeliotis noted that school outbreaks are plateauing, most notably in the Cornwall area which has seen the largest case count in the province recently, and he said that most of the new cases occurred among unvaccinated school-age children. He noted that the Kindergarten sector is a specific problem because these children cannot be vaccinated, and not all schools require masks for them. The English and French Catholic school boards mandate masks for Kindergarteners, something that Roumeliotis has been advocating all schools adopt. He does expect a vaccine for children ages five to eleven to be approved in the next month and a half.
Third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being shipped out to long-term care homes next week alongside the yearly influenza vaccine. Residents of long-term care homes will receive the third vaccine dose before anyone else. The antibodies that the COVID-19 vaccine creates fade after six months, and it’s just about time for another dose for those who received theirs first.
Guidelines for trick-or-treating safely will be going up on the EOHU website by October 14. Roumeliotis said that while the rate of COVID transmission outdoors is only 1/20th that of virus contagion indoors, the EOHU still recommends a cautious Halloween celebration. Roumeliotis said they are recommending kids don’t go out at all, but he knows that’s may still happen.
The EOHU has no plans to implement a region-wide COVID-19 mandate for healthcare spaces, and there is no word yet of a provincial mandate. It is up to individual municipal councils to decide on mandatory vaccination policies for municipal employees in their own communities, as The Nation and Hawkesbury have done. Many residents have been wondering what consequences will follow for those who refuse to follow the municipal mandates and get vaccinated, but all Roumeliotis could say was that as far as he knows, it will be up to the individual workplace to decide.